Friday, 14 June 2019

Pigment Interaction

 Gorgeous pigment interaction


Play with colour.

Never stop experimenting with pigments and having fun with colour.

I meet so many artists who have their own favourite colours and they stay with them year after year which is brilliant if this suits you as a personality. My problem is I am a Gemini and I get very bored very quickly. So to use the same colours and paint similar subjects each day would kill my creative spirit. It has in the past when I was first learning how to paint in watercolour and to the point I thought I actually didn't like painting. I now cannot imagine what my life would be like without colour and painting in it. I am also over joyed that I discovered Daniel Smith watercolour shades as they are so incredibly exciting to use. They suit me so well.

Yesterday I painted a rooster on top of a wash that hadn't even started out to be a rooster. It was just a wash. I shared it on my blog. This explains the unusual colour combination and effects in the piece.  I enjoyed painting that rooster so much that I couldn't wait to start a new painting of another one today.

But now my technique is different. Instead of simply throwing colour on paper and waiting to see what the subject could be from the result I deliberately planned my wash to include a rooster.

I knew from yesterdays completed painting that my new rooster today was going to be blue but I didn't know which shades to use. I have fallen in love hook , line and sinker with Daniel Smith Lunar Blue so that was my first choice. I know it granulates as a pigment and forms wonderful watermarks so that was shade choice number one. However using one shade alone can sometimes lead to boring results so I needed a second shade to give the Lunar Blue a kick and for this I opted for gorgeous Daniel Smith Moonglow. These two shades together form terrific patterns.

So my first wash with watermarks, colour swirls, early feather tail shape and movement can be seen below. Isn't it beautiful? Fresh, clean and exciting.

Rooster first wash using Daniel Smith Watercolors.

Of course there will be red in the head section, and gold for the feet. Perhaps violet for the under shadows of the feathers. This is going to be a beautiful piece. And I can't wait to finish it but that is not good.  I know from experience that racing to complete a painting can often kill it. So yes, I have created a second similar wash so I can work on the two taking the best ideas and brush work into each separate painting.

I am happy.

I am never happier than when I am painting and I am loving my new feeling of excitement and joy in my work. I hope you can feel it too. 

You know, rather than me tell you my favourite double colour combination I would love to hear yours. Perhaps you could reply to this post letting me and others know what your favourite pigment interaction colours are. And if you haven't tried new colours for ages this post could be just the boost to make you search for new favourites

Happy painting!


May Blossom 2019 : Its All About the Colour

May Blossom 2019
Section from a larger composition

 What a great day to be alive. I now walk our two Australian Labradoodles daily before heading for my studio. Each day I see some new treasure I wish to paint and this routine has been a part of my life for so long. When I didn't have dogs for the period  since losing our beloved Bailey I just couldn't face walking in my favourite spots. It didn't feel right without him. But now my soul is lifted by these two exuberant four legged little beings , new to our family, who are seeing adventure in every daily walk and its' wonderful. Seeing their joy certainly adds to my own.

Their first walks saw the hedgerow smothered in tiny May blossoms. Now gone but not in my mind. Hence today's blog post. You may think did I use masking fluid? No, not at all. I find masking fluid use leaves hard edges that are sometimes far too stiff to soften to add the necessary life needed in a piece.

I started my painting with a vibrant colourful wash for my background leaving some sections pale where the white flowers would latere be placed.

I then worked negative work around clumps of the tiny blossoms before picking out one or two individual small flowers to be my main focal points. As seen in the close up below. There is now a variety of white in the petals as some are pale blue giving a feeling of depth and shadow in my painting

Negative work around each blossom brings each flower to life.

I want depth in this piece so I have used Daniel Smith Watercolor Ground , Mars Black, under some flowers and this works fantastically as a technique.

The full painting can be seen below. I still have a lot of work to do on this painting but it is coming to life so well , so far.

May Blossom, full painting as a work in progress


Thank you!

I have received some wonderful messages from friends and followers who have missed me whilst I have been poorly. I am back! Feeling great and getting better by the day. Working from home for a while which is doing me the world of good and as you can see I am experimenting and sharing again.

Let the good times roll!

Happy painting

Thursday, 13 June 2019


"Ruffled Feathers"
Created using my new Jean Haines Daniel Smith Shimmer Set shades 

Where to start? I am back again. Life is so busy at the moment and there is so much exciting art news to share. I have my own Daniel Smith sets coming out this year and I am thrilled to finally share the news. Behind the scenes so much has been going on connected to making these the most irrisistable of watercolour sets available and I have selected shades that I can't live without to be included in both.

But why the shimmer sets?

Well for some time now I have been enhancing my work with the addition of iridescent and shimmer shades that bring exciting life in a very subtle way to my work. I have been asked how I am achieving the efffects so now I am sharing the products I use in Jean Haines sets and there is more news. 

I intend to share some tips of this range of colours and next month will start filming ideas and techniques which you will be able to see on line. I am absolutely thrilled by this opportunity to show how I paint minus typing! So do watch this space for updates on this brilliantly thrilling new venture.

The above rooster has Daniel Smith Iridescent Electric Blue and Pearlescent Shimmer on the feathers and these sections really glisten but not in an over powering way.

I can't wait for tomorrow when I will be back in my studio and sharing again. My health has taken a set back recently but I seem to be bouncing back well and working from home is suiting me much better for now. This does not mean I shan't be travelling in future. But my break from teaching is giving me time I needed to recharge my artistic batteries and think about the direction I wish to take as an artist at this stage in my career.

I'm working on gallery collections quietly and exhibitions too.

In fact.

Life is great!


Wednesday, 22 May 2019

Racing Colours : Jean Haines Daniel Smith Watercolour Sets

 "Racing Ahead"
Aussie Red Gold takes the lead 

I am currently working on a gallery collection and I am delighted to share the news that this year my own Daniel Smith Watercolour Sets will be launched and they include my favourite dynamic colours. In fact, shades that I cannot live without. 

I will be sharing more news about my sets soon but for now my favourite colours are acting as silks on jockeys in my latest horse racing paintings.

Everyone knows I adore Aussie Red Gold from the Daniel Smith Watercolour Range so it is no surprise to many that it should be my choice for the the winning jockeys silk however Lunar Blue quickly came into play as not only the dramatic background colour choice but it became the silk of the jockey that may just take the new lead position. It is so hard for me to choose a favourite colour as I love them all !

 Lunar Blue coming into the lead

My Daniel Smith master set colours can interact with each other, give glorious effects when used and they are beautiful for adding punch and drama to any painting. The word boring is not in my vocabulary in life or whilst painting, so I only opt for the most exciting choices when it comes to selecting a product range. And I have been invited many times in the past to have watercolour sets in my own name. Until now I have always refused. But the quality of , the incredible colours, and the excitement I feel when working with, Daniel Smith shades is outstanding. To be invited to have my own sets created by a manufacturer that to me is the best in the world is a dream come true. I leapt at the opportunity and I am hoping these sets will help other artists see how exciting working with this range can be,.

 The first wash stage of my horse racing painting.With my set colours lined up against the appropriate jockeys silks.

Below you can see the painting so far. It is building up well and I am taking my time as I really love this piece. The horses look almost 3D in places and the depth of the background pushes each rider forward  creating a sense of movement which is much needed in any action composition.

Racing Colours Work in Progress so far.

Artist Tip.

When I am teaching I come across so many artists who race to finish a painting in one go. Sadly they often miss the beauty of what the painting itself is screaming to the artist to add in the way of brushwork or colour additions as the painting evolves during its creative journey.

I find if I work on an action piece like the above, taking my time adding dots of colour or single brush marks  gradually rather than in one sitting the painting is often far better. Not only that I then don't risk over working. I also avoid making the mistakes that are often easy painting  traps to fall into when rushing a painting.

So try painting something over a course of three days, each day looking at each stage in progress taking your time to consider what is needed to be added next.

You may find you learn so much  in the process and become a far better artist!

Have fun creating.



Saturday, 18 May 2019

The Race that is Life

 New half sheet horse racing painting
Horses and jockeys appearing in the first wash.

Life has a way of becoming busier by the second without you even realising it.  I have accepted commissions which I am delighted to say have all been delivered even though I generally as a rule do not take them on. Why? Because I find it almost impossible to keep up with demand for personal commission paintings which sounds like a lovely position to be in as an artist but they tear me away from painting following my hearts instincts. Now I am working for galleries and I am creating with a passion that runs deep within my soul. I am not distracted by teaching at the moment so I can throw myself into my studio time with sheer abandon. 

However life is incredibly busy for me still. With many projects on the horizon. My new book "Paint Yourself Positive" will be launched this summer,already available to  pre order on and I am thrilled to share the news that I have my own Jean Haines Daniel Smith sets coming out too this year. These are incredibly exciting sets of colours which include my personal favourite shades. Actually they aren't just shades to me, they are my best friends as I can't work without them. The colours are vibrant, magical and the master set is an absolutely stunning collection. There is also a shimmer set because I have found I am now using the iridescent and shimmer shades to add drama to all of my work. There is nothing more thrilling to an artist that has been painting for years to be asked by another professional how they have achieved a certain effect. To use colour and still surprise artists of all levels is such a terrific feeling as it makes me understand I too am growing and developing still , discovering new techniques and ideas. Please look out for the sets when they are launched, news will be shared on my blog about them consistently.

But now back to my horse racing painting. I lay an important first wash down which really has to depict the characters and subjects well. They need to be coming to life immediately, if they don't it is  not worth working further. This piece feels more than right. It holds an exciting energy that thrills my soul and even now when looking at it I can almost hear the hooves of the horses resounding as they cover the ground hurtling towards the finish line. Who will win?

Below you can see my easel with this first wash along side a study of two horses which put me in the mood for painting the bigger piece and gallery collection which will follow.

 Colour study alongside my first wash of the bigger composition,.

 Below you can see the vibrant colours I am going to be adding on top of the first wash to bring drama, impact and even more energy to this piece. These colours are from my Daniel Smith Master set. Not one colour is boring within my Daniel Smith collection. Boring as a word does not fit into my life in any form especially when painting. My shades in each set will set your heart racing as if you too were heading towards the winning line!

 Daniel Smith enticng watercolour shades 
 To create a full painting I often start small with a study. The below piece is lovely as it is but the energy increases in my work when I get into my painting zone.

Study which helps me get into my "painting zone"

I have been quiet lately on my blog. At the beginning of the year I had a health scare which I have now fully recovered from, then we decided to bring two puppies into our lives and their training has taken up quite a bit of my time. But I have been painting in my studio for once for me only minus thinking of writing or teaching workshops. I believe to teach well we have to sometimes fill our own artistic tanks so that we have new material and ideas to share and oh boy is my artistic tank filling up.

Watch this space and happy painting!


Tuesday, 16 April 2019

May Blossom 2019 ; Positive Changes


May Blossom
Work in Progress 

My life is changing constantly and I have to admit writing my book "Paint Yourself Positive" has made me take stock of where I am , what I am doing and where I would like to be. I was convinced I was already there, at a point in my life where I am content with every aspect of my life. But we can all improve our lives no matter our age or circumstances.

I thought about how years ago I would always walk every day and find new treasures, often subjects I had never painted before, and bring them home to my study to create in watercolour. I would set myself challenges from finding the most simplest to the most complex of treasures and set about painting them in a variety of ways in watercolour. Those days stopped because we lost our dog Bailey. Since we lost him I threw myself into touring, teaching, writing and judging. So my personal walks and later even my studio time gradually came bottom of my list on how I spent my time. Now I make time for me. Time to paint for my own personal enjoyment. Discovering new techniques which I intend to share on future workshops, new books and possibly films.

I love giving to others but I am aware that my  workshops can only be successfully enjoyable for me if I constantly grow as an artist. I find it boring to paint the same thing repeatedly, in the same style which has never been my way of working. I want to always believe I am on a journey in learning rather than feel I have reached any destination. I can grow in many ways, as a person and as an artist And I feel so much better now. My life is enriched. I feel my art is too.

We have two new puppies, Teddy and Murphy who are hard work but fun and because of them I am back to walking in different places daily finding new things to paint. Today the treasure I brought back to my studio was May Blossom. If I take the puppies on an interesting enough walk they sleep in my studio while I am painting. Which is bliss. This mornings' walk saw me carry a tiny sprig of May Blossom back to my studio and I created the first small study painting seen below with the sprig sat in the centre of the piece. Beneath this image you can see my painting minus the sprig of blossom.

 May Blossom painting with the real flower on top to study form and gain ideas for future brushwork

Study of May Blossom, without the real flower on top.

I,as always, enjoyed painting the small piece so much that I instantly created a large wash to act as a background for my detailed flowers. The larger piece is far more adventurous but feels as though it carries more freedom as I have room on the larger piece of paper to express myself. I don't use masking fluid but I have used white gouache on the piece to gain back some of the white blossoms. To create the sense of the real thing I took my puppies back to where the real flowers were this afternoon and sat admiring them , looking up at the heavily laden branches carrying small white flowers. Learning from nature that not all the flowers were perfect. Some had only one or two petals as the wind had knocked the delicate pieces off. Some were odd shapes, others connected to bigger clumps of small blooms. The sky behind the blossom varied in colour due to moving clouds. The branches also were a variety of colours from grey to reddish brown. I learnt so much just by sitting still. And that is also something I am learning to do. Sit still and observe. We race around in this life, often being constantly busy as though that is the right means of fulfilling each day. When the opposite can be said to be true.Quality time being quiet, observing, taking in nature and admiring its' beauty can do so much to enrich our souls and feed our artists inner needs.


I am so ready to continue to work on this piece.

Artists tip for the day?

Sit still now and then, but looking at something you can paint in future while you rest.
At these times. look for colour, formations, shadow and light effects always.
Find new treasure to paint as often as possible.
Don't always opt for something easy, push yourself on new adventures attempting to create more complex subjects .
Don't be afraid, we are only working on paper and our mistakes teach us how to grow as artists.

Basically, enjoy life and painting at every opportunity.

I do!


Tuesday, 2 April 2019

Shining a Light ; Pussy Willow in Watercolour

Pussy Willow in Watercolour

I am having a blast in my studio. Our new puppies are peacefully sleeping at my feet and the short walks I take them on each day are leading me to see nature at its' best. Right now the country lanes are adorned with catkins and pussy willow. Both favourite subjects of mine to paint.

The pussy willow always has been a subject that appeals to me. As a child I loved touching its' soft fluffy buds. I loved how my step mum would always arrange them with bright yellow daffodils in a vase in our home to cheer the room especially on grey days when it was raining, which it often did in Wales where I grew up. Maybe that is why I often avoid using grey shades, I saw too many as a child as in grey skies.

But back to my painting today and as you can see I am happily back sharing on my blog again.

The above piece was created after I played with a small study first as an experiment. I have used Daniel Smith Walnut ink for the dark central area to set off my soft pussy willow buds. I can't wait to complete this but it has to dry before I work further on it. Rather than waste time I began a second wash so the two paintings sit side by side on my easel waiting for the finishing brush work to be added.

It is so exciting painting something you love but challenging yourself at the same time to paint it differently from the year before. And better.

Side by side. Two pussy willow paintings waiting for the next finishing touches to be added.

Once I start painting I almost feel as though a light has been turned on in my soul. Something magical happens in that I feel energised, invigorated and eager to create beauty  with my brushes.
Oh how I love Spring. How I love working in watercolour and how I love life.

If only we could have 48 hour days and ten day week  so that I could fit more in !

Happy painting!

Second painting of pussy willow waiting to be developed. 


No artists tip today other than suggesting you go for a walk anywhere to discover something that tugs at your heart strings to paint it.

Don't paint the same thing every day as that can sometimes crush your artists'  soul.  Keep it alive , refreshed and excited at the prospect of painting and as often as possible